November 1984

[Note: This was the first issue of RTG News.]

New Computer Chips

Expect manufacturers to announce a variety of new microcomputer products in the next few months. These new machines will have faster processor chips. The current "standards" are the 8088 chip in the IBM PC and XT and the 8086 chip in the AT&T PC.

The 8088 chip reads memory 8 bits at a time, just like an 8-bit microprocessor chip. But the 8086 reads memory 16 bits at a time, which makes it a "true" 16-bit micro. The two chips run the same software (but not at the same speed!) and both are made by Intel.

Intel's next generation of microprocessor chips, the 80186 and 80286, are beginning to appear in more computers. The 80186 is a true 16-bit chip; Tandy's Model 2000 uses it.

The 80286 chip is intended for multi-user applications. IBM uses this chip in the PC AT, which is supposed to be a three-user machine when the Xenix operating system becomes available for it in 1985.

Further in the future is the Intel 80386, a 32-bit microprocessor chip.

From the user's viewpoint, the microprocessor chip used is only one of several factors which determine the actual speed of a computer. A future issue of RTG News will describe a simple test we use to judge the relative speed of various machines.

Word Processing Guide: Cursor Movement

Word processing is a big topic; here we'll just point out one feature you should look for when you shop for word processing equipment or software.

On most systems, in order to enter text, you move the cursor (a pointer on the screen) to the location where you wish to type new text. But many word processors won't let you move the cursor freely to any position on the screen. For example, WordStar jumps the cursor to the next line if you try to move it past the end of the existing text on a line. Spellbinder lets you move the cursor anywhere you wish, but you still can't enter text beyond the end of the line.

Uniplex is one of the few word processing programs which let you enter text anywhere between your margins, whether or not you have previously entered text on that line. Altos recently adopted Uniplex as the "official" word processor for its Xenix-based computers.

Wordstar Tip: Changing An Indented Paragraph

Sometimes an indented paragraph is useful to set off text, such as a long quote, from its surroundings. WordStar has a convenient feature to handle this: press ^OG once for each tab stop you want to indent, then type your paragraph. (When we set up WordStar on a terminal with function keys, we create an INDENT key to do this in one keystroke.)

What happens when you want to change the paragraph? If you insert a few words and press ^B to re-form the paragraph, you lose the indentation! Here is the proper technique:

(1) Move the cursor to the left margin on the first line of the indented paragraph.

(2) Press INDENT (or ^OG) as many times as required to match the indentation of the paragraph. The cursor won't move, but the ruler line will show the indentation level with highlighting.

(3) Press ^B to re-form the paragraph. The indentation is preserved.

You can also use this trick to indent a paragraph after you type it. In step (2) above just indent to where you want the paragraph to be.

For those who demand perfection, which in this case means both the left and right margins indented, you'll need to use non-printing ruler lines and ^OF (another topic entirely).

Future Topics:

Multi-user systems vs. personal computers, RTG's legal billing and litigation support software, printer repair tips, questions and answers, new products and more.

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